We were back at court. This was the most relaxed I had been there. I was back, with my popcorn in my bag, and my knitting. We didn’t need to hide away. We could walk freely around the court building. No fear of bumping into him.
We met the detective. She said she had a message for me. It was from Warrior4 thanking me for starting this process. I said I would really like to be in touch with the others so we could support each other. She told us that Warrior3 was coming to court for sentencing so we would meet her then.
The prosecution barrister came over to see us. We thanked him again. He couldn’t believe how long my justice scarf had become. I asked if he could ask the judge to speak up as we hadn’t been able to hear. He disappeared and came back later saying the judge had approved all those who had given evidence could sit in the court room for sentencing.
My older sister arrived. It was the first time we had seen her since the verdict. We all hugged. My friend and her husband arrived. We hugged them too. My sister’s friend was there too.
His brother sat nearby.
Then another family arrived. It was Warrior3, and her supporters. We introduced ourselves. We suggested we support each other, and exchanged numbers.
His defence barrister came past. She kind of nodded at us, in a no hard feelings I was just doing my job kind of way.
Our friends went into the public gallery and we went into court.
His brother came in and sat behind us. He wasn’t meant to be there. The police officer who supported Warrior3 asked him to move. He point blank refused. I was so angry. How dare he make this about him.
They brought him in to the dock, with 3 prison guards. He looked at us and shook his head. My sister sat and nodded back. Warrior3 was in front of us. She couldn’t look at him.
The judge came in and we all stood and sat down. Two members of the jury had come back to sentencing too. They were on our side. They knew what he was and had seen through his lies. During the trial they asked questions. The detective said they asked so many questions. She said in 15 years she had never known a jury to ask so many questions. At one point the judge asked them to stop as it felt like they were leading the enquiry.
The judge began his summing up. He said he had no way of knowing if he was still a danger to children
didn’t you hear his character witness? He sounds like he is still grooming to me. He said that he had groomed children for a period of 30 years. He called him a serial predatory paedophile. He shook his head again. We nodded. Yes you are. That is exactly what you are.
He summarised our impact statements, and then sentenced him to 18 years, taking 2 off for his age and his health. SIXTEEN YEARS.
His brother (behind me) says “Fucking hell”. Fucking hell? Fucking hell? You know what he did. You sat in court and you heard it all.
What the fuck did you think he would get? A slap on the wrist?
The judge talked about being able to apply for parole in 8 years. He talked about license and the sex offender register. It wasn’t going in. Sixteen years. He would come out, he could come out, he should have got life. But even so, 16 years. That will take the best of the rest of his life, and that is all I could have hoped for. He categorised him as category A. The most dangerous level. That is why he had 3 prison guards with him. He was going to a horrible prison where everyone who knows what he is. He can be terrified night after night. It’s the least he deserves.
Friday morning and the journey to Woolwich was a happier one. We were met at court by my older sister, my friend who had come with me to court and friends of my sister. We met one of the other victims for the first time. There was a bit of waiting around but it was OK we knew what was coming. We could sit up outside the court, we were free to walk around. The judge said because we couldn’t hear so well in the gallery we would be allowed to sit down in the court to hear the sentencing. He got 18 years with 2 years off because of his age and ill health.
This was a win for all of us, all 5 of us. My indictments may not be why he’s in prison but they are part of why he was on trial in the first place. It is true, we were stronger together and we continue to be so.
It has been a long road. It has taken 3 years (plus about 35) to get justice. Did I think we’d make it? Not always if I’m honest. Am I glad we did this? Absolutely because we did it. We stopped him.
I have learnt a lot through this process, I know more about the criminal justice system than I ever cared to know. I definitely know who my friends are, who has my back and who hasn’t. I am stronger than I thought I was. I am looking back at the mountain we climbed and I still can’t quite believe how far we have come. The 5 of us.
He was going to be sentenced on the Friday. Would I like to come and see him sentenced, they asked. I told the police lady, with all due respect, what’s the point? No sentence will ever be enough for me. It’s never going to take away what he did. It’s never going to make me feel better about what happened to me. If anything, it will only upset me that they can’t sentence him to life in jail… in the most horrific of environments! Because that’s what he deserves. But I’ll take the 16 years. He’ll probably (and hopefully) die in prison. And it’s no better then what he deserves.
Soon after we found out the verdict, we all expressed a wish to thank each other, and mainly warrior 1 for coming forward… and starting the process… so that was when Warrior Women was born… a true 🖕🏻to him… what happened to us won’t be what defines us… what we have done in-spite of it and because of it will be what defines us.